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Hi, I’m Brad Feld, a managing director at the Foundry Group who lives in Boulder, Colorado. I invest in software and Internet companies around the US, run marathons and read a lot.

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Inappropriate Fearmongering About Marijuana by Bruce Benson – CU President

Comments (35)

I’m a huge supporter of CU and CU Boulder in particular. While it’s not my alma mater, I’ve probably contributed as much or more time and money as I have to MIT, where I spent seven years. Amy and I strongly support three institutions of higher education – MIT, Wellesley (where she went to school), and CU Boulder.

I was shocked and stunned to get an email from the CU President Bruce Benson yesterday. Here are the first few paragraphs, on the CU President letterhead.

“When Colorado voters in November passed Amendment 64, which legalized small amounts of marijuana for personal use, it led to a number of questions. Most uncertainty surrounds the conflict between the new state law and federal law, under which marijuana remains illegal. Amendment 64 will be signed into law in January and take effect in January 2014.

But for the University of Colorado, the issue is clear. Marijuana threatens to cost the university nearly a billion dollars annually in federal revenue, money we can ill afford to lose.

I was personally opposed to Amendment 64 and worked on my own time to defeat it. But it passed and CU, like many entities, is working to determine the implications.

The glaring practical problem is that we stand to lose significant federal funding. CU must comply with the federal Drug-Free Schools and Communities Act, which compels us to ban illicit drugs from campus. Our campuses bring in more than $800 million in federal research funds, not to mention nearly an additional $100 million in funding for student financial aid. The loss of that funding would have substantial ripple effects on our students and our state. CU contributes $5.3 billion to Colorado’s economy annually, a good portion of it derived from our research.”

Now, independent of your view on the legalization of marijuana, my immediate reaction was that this doesn’t make any sense to me. Last night at dinner, I asked Amy, who is on the Wellesley College board, what she thought. We talked about it for a while and agreed that it seemed extremely inappropriate for Benson to be using his role as CU President to advocate his personal position on this, especially in the context of a threat of losing a billion dollars of federal funding. Neither of us knew the exact rules here, but it just didn’t sound right to me.

This morning, I saw a response from Congressman Jared Polis – our local congressman, a longtime friend of mine and very successful entrepreneur.  Jared’s post was clear and unambiguous - CU Federal Funding Unaffected by Amendment 64: Benson’s Statement Alarmist and Irresponsible.

“The University of Colorado is not in jeopardy of losing a single dime of federal funding due to Amendment 64. President Benson has allowed his personal opposition to Amendment 64 to compromise his responsibility to the university by spreading an alarmist claim that has no basis in fact.

“The legality of marijuana in Colorado tomorrow will not impact CU any more than the legality of alcohol does today. The federal Drug-Free Schools and Communities Act requires universities to adopt and implement drug prevention programs to prevent the unlawful possession, use, or distribution of illicit drugs or alcohol by students and employees on school premises or as part of any of its activities. The University’s alcohol and drug policy bans the use of alcohol and marijuana on campus and satisfies the federal requirement.

“I will not stand by and allow the reputation of the University of Colorado to be sullied by the non-existent threat of losing one billion dollars. As the federal representative the University of Colorado at Boulder, I want to reassure parents, students, and faculty that CU is not in danger of losing any federal funding due to Amendment 64. I call upon President Benson to immediately retract his message and clarify that the University is not in danger of losing any federal funds due to the passage of Amendment 64.”

I respect Benson’s personal position, but I’m offended that he’d use his position the way he just did. Jared is right – Benson owes the members of the CU community a retraction.

Colorado – Entrepreneurial By Nature

Comments (18)

Some time ago a group of entrepreneurs including my partner Seth Levine came together to talk about how to promote entrepreneurship in Colorado and celebrate the fact that entrepreneurship has become a huge part of the Colorado business ecosystem. The result of that discussion was Colorado Entrepreneurial By Nature – a grass roots branding campaign whose goal is to get Colorado entrepreneurs to rally around their shared love of our state and our entrepreneurial culture.

Colorado – Entrepreneurial by Nature is officially launching today in conjunction with Denver Startup Week. I’m awesomely proud of both efforts – they are great examples of how a Startup Community can be led by entrepreneurs. Both efforts are grass roots, totally network based, and driven by entrepreneurs. Denver Startup Week looks completely awesome – the schedule of events is just tremendous.

Go get the badge and fly it proudly on your site if you are a Colorado entrepreneur!

Help Colorado Now Is Off To A Good Start

Comments (7)
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While the fires in Colorado have calmed down and the firefighters are in the process of getting them contained, there continues to be plenty of fire danger as the firefighters continue to work incredibly hard. It’s going to be a tough summer for fire in Colorado and I’m proud of all the support this community has given out of the gate to people impacted.

As of this evening we’ve raised $43,000, including the $20,000 match from me, Amy, and NewsGator. A number of companies have signed up to match gifts and Crowdrise, who has helped us get this online fundraiser up and running in the last 24 hours, has been awesome to work with.

If you haven’t contributed and are willing, please donate now. All of your donations via Team Anchor Point Fund (the foundation Amy and I have) will go to the Denver Foundation – CO Fire Relief Fund 2012.

There are many other initiatives going on to fund firefighters and people impacted by the fire. One of my favorites is Wild Fire Tees. I bought one yesterday – all of the profits are being donated to Care and Share or the Colorado Red Cross.

Sometimes it’s hard to realize the impact of community support in situations like this. There are numerous people working incredibly hard to deal with a force of nature (fire) that creates huge anxiety and stress in a community. While you may not directly relate to it, every contribution of any amount, no matter how small, is helpful.

For anyone who writes a check, does something to help someone who is impacted by the fires, or even just expresses words of support, thank you. I know the Colorado community appreciates it greatly, especially those directly impacted by the fires.

 

Startups Can Help Colorado Wildfire Victims Right Now

Comments (4)

My friends at NewsGator have started a fundraising campaign to help victims of the Colorado wildfires. In addition to getting the campaign up and running, NewsGator has committed to a matching gift of $10,000. Amy and I decided to match that gift from our foundation, so the matching gift is now $20,000.

I’d like to encourage everyone involved in a startup in Colorado (or anyone in the world) to help your neighbors in Colorado Springs, Fort Collins, and Boulder who are victims of the current fires that are raging. There are two ways to do this:

1. Give a direct gift via my page. Amy and I are matching the first $10,000 of gifts.

2. If you are part of a startup, start a campaign for your company. It’s easy and will take a few minutes. Then – rally your gang to contribute.

While the current Boulder fire is getting under control, many people in Colorado Springs and Fort Collins are still at risk. And many others have been impacted. Here’s a note I got from a friend in Fort Collins.

hi, brad. yes, sadly, our ranch burned to the ground 2 weeks ago. we got the all clear to go back on thursday. even though it’s a giant scorched hole in the earth, we need to see it. 

we’re fine. animals, horses, children all safe. we were on a motorcycle trip. so, literally have only the clothes on our backs (and some really cool motorcycle helmets). i’ve never had nothing and i’m learning a lot from it.

We are part of an amazing community. Be thankful for what you’ve got and send good karma out in the world. You never know when you’ll need it to come back to you.

Startup Summer Colorado

Comments (9)

One of the fun projects I am involved with is Startup Colorado, a community focused initiative to spur new company creation in Colorado.  One of Startup Colorado’s most promising projects is Startup Summer.

Startup Summer is an immersive summer program offering the opportunity to work as a paid intern for a Boulder/Denver startup and attend a variety of evening events, including a weekly seminar series on entrepreneurship.  We are looking for students at any four-year college or university in Colorado who are aspiring entrepreneurs and want to participate in a program that could change their lives.  If you know a Colorado college student who would want to participate, tell them to apply to Startup Summer:

The idea is simple: work as an intern by day for a great startup, then participate in a variety of evening events that will give you great exposure to the basics of entrepreneurship, including substantive classes on issues that entrepreneurs face, as well as various social events.  As an added layer of fun and relationship building, we’re expecting Startup Summer interns to live together in CU housing in Boulder.

Startup Summer offers a great experience, including:

  • A paid ten-week internship with a Boulder/Denver startup; the internship will include frequent interaction with the company founders and management team
  • The Startup Summer Seminar Series featuring prominent entrepreneurs teaching classes on entrepreneurship
  • A weekly social event with business leaders in the community
  • A community with your peers in Startup Summer through group housing in Boulder
  • An end-of-summer competition with an opportunity to win mentorship from some of Boulder’s finest entrepreneurs and investors

I think this program has the potential to open up high growth entrepreneurship to a wider range of Colorado students than has been possible before. If you are a student at any four-year college or university in Colorado, check it out.

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